1713: 12 Anne Session 2 c.17: The Usury Act

1713: 12 Anne session 2 c. 17: An act to reduce the rate of interest, without any prejudice to parliamentary securities.

WHEREAS the reducing of interest to ten, and from thence to eight, and thence to six in the hundred, hath, from time to time, by experience been found very beneficial to the advancement of trade, and improvement of lands: and whereas the heavy burden of the late long and expensive war hath been chiefly born by the owners of the land of this kingdom, by reason whereof they have been necessitated to contract very large debts, and thereby, and by the abatement in the value of their lands, are become greatly impoverished: and whereas by reason of the great interest and profit which hath been made of money at home, the foreign trade of this nation hath of late years been much neglected, and at this time there is a great abatement in the value of the merchandises, wares, and commodities of this kingdom, both at home and in foreign parts, whither they are transported: and whereas for the redress of these mischiefs, and the preventing the encrease of the same, it is absolutely necessary to reduce the high rate of interest of six pounds in the hundred pounds for a year to a nearer proportion with the interest allowed for money in foreign states; be it therefore enacted by the Queen’s most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same,

[After 29 Sept, 1714 no person shall take above 5l. per cent. interest.]

That no person or persons whatsoever, from and after the nine and twentieth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and fourteen, upon any contract, which shall be made from and after the said nine and twentieth day of September, take, directly or indirectly, for loan of any monies, wares, merchandise, or other commodities whatsoever, above the value of five pounds for the forbearance of one hundred pounds for a year, and so after that rate for a greater or lesser sum, or for a longer or shorter time;

[All bonds, &c. for a greater interest shall be void.]

and that all bonds, contracts, and assurances whatsoever, made after the time aforesaid, for payment of any principal, or money to be lent or covenanted to be performed upon or for any usury, whereupon or whereby there shall be reserved or taken above the rate of five pounds in the hundred, as aforesaid, shall be utterly void;

[And persons taking above 5l. for the forbearance of 100l. for a year, shall forfeit treble the value of the monies, &c.]

and that all and every person or persons whatsoever, which shall after the time aforesaid, upon any contract to be made after the said nine and twentieth day of September, take, accept and receive, by way or means of any corrupt bargain, loan, exchange, chevizance, shift, or interest of any wares, merchandizes or other thing or things whatsoever, or by any deceitful way or means, or by any covin, engine, or deceitful conveyance, for the forbearing or giving day of payment for one whole year, of and for their money or other thing, above the sum of five pounds for the forbearing of one hundred pounds for a year, and so after that rate for a greater or lesser sum, or for a longer or shorter term, shall forfeit and lose for every such offence the treble value of the monies, wares, merchandizes, and other things so lent, bargained, exchanged or shifted.

[After 29 Sept. 1714. no scrivener, &c. shall take above 52. for 100l. for a year, for brokage, &c., nor above 12d. besides stamp duties, for making or renewing any bond, &c. on penalty of 20l. costs, and imprisonment for six months; one moiety to the crown, the other to the prosecutor.]

II. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all and every scrivener and scriveners, broker and brokers, solicitor and solicitors, driver and drivers of bargains for contracts, who shall after the said nine and twentieth day of September take or receive, directly or indirectly, any sum or sums of money, or other reward or thing for brokage, soliciting, driving, or procuring the loan, or forbearing of any sum or sums of money, over and above the rate or value of five shillings for the loan, or forbearing of one hundred pounds for a year, and so ratably, or above twelve pence, over and above the stamp-duties, for making or renewing of the bond or bill for loan, or forbearing thereof or for any counterbond or bill concerning the same, shall forfeit for every such offence twenty pounds, with costs of suit, and suffer imprisonment for half a year; the one moiety all which forfeitures to be to the Queen’s most excellent majesty, her heirs and successors, and the other moiety to him or them that will sue for the same in the same county where the several offences are committed, and not elsewhere, by action of debt, bill, plaint or information, in which no essoin, wager of law or protection shall be allowed.

Source: Pickering, Statutes at Large, volume 13.

Note that the Statutes of the Realm cites this as 13 Anne chapter 15.